In the wake of the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, Solihull Council is warning residents of a series of new scams related to the virus.
Organisations, which include: The Chartered Institute of Trading Standards (CTSI); Action Fraud; and The Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) are urging consumers not to fall for scams.
Some of the current scams to be aware of are:
- The coronavirus outbreak has sparked a black market in fake medical supplies, particularly fake face masks. If you are buying masks, gloves, soap and sanitiser, make sure that you are buying them from legitimate sources and reputable retailers.
- CTSI has issued a warning about new email scams. It asks the public to be wary of a new emerging scam involving fake phone apps. There are reports of several 'coronavirus update' apps, which claim to provide updates on the virus. The fake app contains a form of 'ransomware', named CovidLock, which upon downloading, locks the phone and displays a message demanding that the user pay a sum of money to unlock it. These apps are being download from various unofficial websites.
Phone users are advised to only download apps directly from the Apple Store, or Android Play Store as these are safety checked by the platforms.
- It has come to light that emails claiming to be from the government are offering a tax rebate to support people through this challenging period.
The emails, which look official, inform the recipient of the rebate amount and request that they click a link to receive it. At the link, the recipient is asked to fill in personal details, including their credit card number and address. These details allow the scammer to take money directly from the recipient's bank account.
- Other email-based scams include one claiming to be from the World Health Organisation (WHO). The email, which claims to hold crucial coronavirus safety advice, has an attachment which downloads a keylogger, allowing scammers to follow the online movements of the user, and gain access to their device and personal details.
- Always check that any e-mails are from legitimate sources.
The new scams are changing by the day so please be vigilant. Citizens Advice (CitA) has launched advice on coronavirus scams. CitA has an excellent scam checker, and you can access it by clicking here.